Developer: Thinking Rabbit
Director: Toru Ishikawa
Designer: Hideki Shimura
Programmer: Hiroto Nakamura
Composer: Kenzou Kumei
No, it’s not two nerds standing together, it’s the totally not Castlevania rip-off, 8 Eyes!
Let’s kick off the review, as usual, with the title screen.
8 Eyes is in fact a two player game, which as usual I didn’t have the chance to try out…
Maybe player two controls your bird? Speaking of which, you have a ferocious falcon as a constant companion, which is a neat mechanism that allows you to attack enemies and flip switches that are otherwise out of reach. Your bird (Cutrus) even has his own life meter, not that he ever died under my watchful gaze.
I died plenty for the both of us however. 8 Eyes is one of those frustratingly difficult games where it seems no matter what you do, you’re going to take damage. For starters, your main weapon (a sword, maybe?) is often shorter than those of your adversaries, so no matter what you do when attacking, they’ll get a few licks in, often before you hit them once. And then there are the baddies who toss projectiles which you can’t duck under, but also come at you so quickly that there’s no way to time jumps between the flurry of thrown weapons. And don’t get me started on the unavoidable flying bats! Look, I’m okay with a challenging game– hell, I cut my teeth on stuff like Mega Man and Ninja Gaiden growing up. But there’s a difference between requiring skill to avoid hits and just making it impossible.
Speaking of Mega Man, 8 Eyes does let you choose between seven stages, before presumably finishing up at the intimidating “House of Ruth”. I have a feeling they’re not talking Yankee Stadium, but since I only ever made it to one boss (and died immediately), who knows?
In addition to a multitude of monsters, stages also feature more human attackers, including some unfortunate stereotypes such as spear throwing natives, turbaned toughs, and mustachioed plumbers. Okay, I made up that last one.
The saving grace of 8 Eyes, much like 3-D WorldRunner, is the stellar score by Kenzou Kumei. Each area has its own music, and it never gets old or grating. Graphically, 8 Eyes is pretty standard for games of its time– nothing special but not bad by any stretch.
In conclusion, 8 Eyes is a punishing imitation of the already difficult Castlevania, and the bird buddy mechanic and outstanding music aren’t enough to make up for the unimaginative levels and enemies.